A few weeks ago, my manager at work described to me his family's planned trip to a very large and awe-inspiring grocery store by the name of Jungle Jim’s. [He occasionally feels the need to tell me these kinds of things, for reasons known entirely to himself.] He mentioned that the store was known for its large selection of produce, including tropical fruit. Any Asian MK knows that the only proper response to such a revelation is: “OMG, DO THEY HAVE RAMBUTANS?!?!” Also acceptable: “OMG, DO THEY HAVE GUAVAS?!” Or “OMG, DO THEY HAVE JAMBU AIR?!” [“OMG, DO THEY HAVE DURIAN?!”, while not, strictly speaking, incorrect, is of a dubious nature. If that is your go-to reaction, you and I may be friends till death parts us, but we will never be roommates. I’m just sayin’.]
At any rate, my manager was unfamiliar with the rambutan, so I explained it to him, described it, and even drew one on my whiteboard. He is reasonably astute, and asked, "So, does the name mean something about it being all hairy?" Yes. Yes, it does. I also tried to explain durian, but he wasn't too sure about that one. As I said, he's astute.
Several days passed, and I actually completely forgot about the conversation. So imagine my surprise when he came into my cubicle this morning and, with a giant grin, dropped a bag containing five rambutans onto my desk! O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay! I was extremely happy and excited, to say the least. I made him try one, as he had claimed that he didn't eat any before because he didn't know how they were to be eaten (Seriously? It's not rocket science.). He also insisted that while he saw guavas there, he didn't dare get some, because he couldn't know to pick the appropriate level of ripeness (A valid point; I'm picky about my guavas.). No matter: I was duly impressed by his intrepidity in getting rambutans at all.
I love my tropical fruit, and I'm so grateful to my (nameless) boss for remembering me and braving the mysteries of the international produce section!
The immortal Bard relates to us this truism: "That which we call a rose, By any other name would smell as sweet". It is by no means clear to me, however, that a rambutan by any other name would be quite as wonderful.